A League of Their Own appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Expect a thoroughly terrific presentation here.
Actually, the opening segment with “Older Dottie” made me fear… well, not the worst, but I thought the movie might seem a little on the bland side. However, these mild concerns dissipated as soon as we headed back to the 1940s.
At that point, sharpness excelled. Nary a sliver of softness materialized, as the movie brought terrific delineation and accuracy. Even seat numbers in the stands could be read in this tight image.
I saw no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes weren’t a factor. With a nice layer of grain, I didn’t sense any digital noise reduction, and print flaws never marred the presentation.
Colors seemed solid, as despite the period setting, the film kept the hues natural, and they consistently looked vivid and dynamic. The tones were nicely rich and seemed quite distinctive, with HDR that added power and oomph to the hues.
Blacks were deep and firm, and most low-light shots came across well. The 4K became a real treat to watch, and I doubt the movie ever looked better.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the movie provided a more than adequate Dolby Atmos soundtrack in which the front channels offered a nice sense of atmosphere. Music showed good stereo imaging, and the track came to life in an appealing way when necessary.
The ballgames provided a nice feeling of environment, and louder scenes like the dance at the gin joint also brought us good involvement. The track didn’t dazzle in terms of soundscape, but it opened up the material well and added immersiveness to the movie.
Audio quality worked well. Speech seemed natural and concise, without notable edginess or other concerns.
Effects appeared accurate and clean, as they lacked distortion or other concerns, and music was full and rich. This wasn’t a remarkable auditory presentation, but it worked well for the story.
How did this 4K UHD compare to the original Blu-ray from 2012? Audio was richer and more involving, as the Atmos mix seemed more involving than the Blu-ray.
Visuals showed strong improvements, as the 4K felt tighter, richer and more vivid. Across the board, this became a tremendous step up, as the 4K offered a stunner.
Note that in addition to the 2012 BD linked above, a 2017 “25th Anniversary” Blu-ray exists. I never saw it, but apparently it uses the same transfer as 2012 disc.
On the 4K UHD Disc, we locate six trailers. Otherwise, all the set’s extras appear on the included Blu-ray copy.
There we launch with an audio commentary from director Penny Marshall plus actors Lori Petty, Megan Cavanagh and Tracy Reiner. All four sit together for their running, screen-specific track. While not a terrific piece, this discussion seems generally informative and entertaining.
Not surprisingly, Marshall dominates as the quartet addresses topics connected to the movie. Among other things, they go over training for the actors, elements shot but not used, Marshall’s directorial style, casting, and dealing with various logistical challenges.
The three actors mostly toss in anecdotes from the set, many of which deal with Madonna. At times, we get some generic happy talk, and Marshall often tends to just tell us the names of participants. Nonetheless, the conversation moves briskly and offers a mostly fun look at the movie.
We find a lot of that cut material Marshall mentioned in the package’s 15 deleted scenes. We can watch these with or without introductions from Marshall. With the intros on, the entire set of snippets runs a whopping 37 minutes, five seconds.
Some excellent material appears here, as we find a mix of extensions to existing scenes plus many that don’t exist at all in the final film. Many of them are quite funny, and we get segments that also elaborate on the sexual tension between Jimmy and Dottie.
We find out the real reason Dottie cried after Betty’s husband got killed and see many other nice moments. It’s a fine collection of clips.
Marshall’s introductions mostly just set up what we’re going to see. Sometimes she gives us specific reasons for the deletions, though she implies the majority got the boot due to time reasons. The introductions don’t add a lot, but they’re short, and they’re informative enough to merit their use.
The disc’s other major extra presents a documentary called Nine Memorable Innings. It should come as no surprise that the program splits into nine chapters plus “pre-game” and “post-game”; via the “Play All” option, it runs 52 minutes, 35 seconds.
“Innings” includes notes from director Penny Marshall, writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and actors Lori Petty, Tracy Reiner, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Garry Marshall, Tom Hanks (from 1992), Jon Lovitz, David Strathairn, and Madonna (from 1992).
We learn about the films background and research, its path to the screen, casting, training, costume issues, shooting the baseball sequences and other notes from the set, Marshall’s approach and personality, anecdotes about the various actors, working with the older actors, and general reflections.
The tone seems fairly thin and fluffy, but a reasonable amount of good information appears. The mini-chapters go through the material fairly efficiently and it all goes down painlessly. I’d prefer less happy talk, but this remains a decent documentary.
With The Enduring Legacy, we find a 12-minute, 13-second featurette that offers notes from Davis, Cavanagh, Reiner, All American Girls Baseball League associate member Gina Casey, and actors Patti Pelton, Freddie Simpson and Anne Ramsay.
“Legacy” looks at the actors’ experiences, gender issues in movies, and a League reunion. Though we find a few fun memories, “Legacy” feels more like an ad for Davis’s film festival, so don’t expect much from it.
Back in 1993, a League TV series hit the air and lasted a whopping six episodes. Three of these appear here: “Dottie’s Back” (23:40), “Shortstop” (23:38) and “Marathon” (23:38).
From the original cast, we find only Reiner and Cavanagh as regulars. Freddie Simpson, Paula Pelton, Jon Lovitz and Garry Marshall popped up as well, but not across the whole series.
Carey Lowell takes over for Davis, Sam McMurray fills in for Hanks, and Christine Elise subs for Petty. Penny Marshall directed “Back”, and Tom Hanks led the third episode, “The Monkey’s Curse”.
Even with Marshall at the helm, “Back” becomes a pretty awful show, one without any of the movie’s cleverness or charm. It offers the usual overacted sitcom performances along with witless dialogue.
Actually, Elise and Lowell seem dull, as neither shows comedic chops. McMurray goes way too far in the other direction, as he delivers an over the top take on the role that’s more Jackie Gleason than Tom Hanks.
Maybe the series would’ve gotten into a groove as it went, but the three shows here don’t deliver much hope that this would occur. That said, I admit I wish the Blu-ray included all six episodes, as it’d make sense to provide the whole series.
Finally we get the music video for Madonna’s “This Used to Be My Playground”. The song’s not exactly Maddy’s crowning achievement, but for a sappy ballad, it’s not bad.
The video’s also decent but not better, as it presents lip-synch clips from Madonna as part of a photo book. It’s a moderately clever execution of a standard format. It also tosses in some movie clips just like almost every other “music video for a song from a film” ever made.
Footnote: though I expected the Blu-ray to replicate the 2017 “25th Anniversary” release, it brings a new version. Presumably it uses the same transfer as the 4K UHD, and it adds the TV episodes to the supplements. Sony hasn’t issued the 2020 Blu-ray on its own, so I won’t review it until/unless that happens.
How can you resist a movie in which a character autographs a baseball with "Avoid the clap - Jimmy Dugan"? I can’t. A League of Their Own presents a terrific film that works for a wide variety of audiences. The 4K UHD delivers excellent picture and good audio along with a fairly satisfying package of bonus materials. This is a charming movie that holds up well after nearly 30 years, and the 4K UHD easily becomes its best representation to date.
Note that as of June 2020, the 4K UHD disc of League of Their Own can be located only as part of a six-movie “Columbia Classics Collection”. This set also includes 4K UHD versions of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dr. Strangelove, Lawrence of Arabia, Gandhi and Jerry Maguire.
To rate this film, visit the original review of A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN